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Henry David Thoreau
Live in each season as it passes; breather the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of the earth

Background

Henry David Thoreau is regarded as a prominent American author, poet, philosopher, transcendentalist, abolitionist and naturalist. He's notorious for his simple and natural lifestyle (especially at Walden Pond) that is portrayed in many of his works. Thoreau was a national leader in the sense that he represented groups of people and was the face of their ideas. Thoreau's written works are commonly associated with the Transcendentalist movement -- a philosophical movement against organized government and society as a whole, they firmly believed in the individual and that one must be "self reliant".

Thoreau and The Mexican War

As previously mentioned, Thoreau was brave enough to be the figurehead of movements. During the Mexican war, Thoreau stood for the abolitionists who were entirely opposed to the war because they believed it would become and expansion of slave territory. Thoreau protested the war by not paying his poll tax. He was imprisoned and felt that his actions stayed true to his beliefs in this particular instance.

Civil Disobedience

Thoreau's iconic essay Civil Disobedience is based on his moral principle concerning government. Thoreau doesn't contest taxes resulting in benefits for the citizens (highways, education, etc.) but rather the individual should never submit their own will to the state. When a law forces one to compromise their morals, Thoreau disagrees. Thoreau states that if a law "is such that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then, I say, break that law." Civil disobedience gained support in result of the Compromise of 1850 -- mainly the Fugitive slave act. It's obvious that northern abolitionist would be morally opposed to being legally forced to return escaped slaves.




Faith Breen